National police commissioner Riah Phiyega should quit in the light of damning allegations against police leadership in the Marikana commission report, political analyst Steven Friedman said on Thursday.
Speaking shortly after Zuma publicly released the findings and recommendations of the report – which held police management responsible for the deaths of 34 miners on August 16 2012 – political analyst Steven Friedman said the recommendation that Phiyega’s fitness to hold office be probed was not sufficient.
“If the national police leadership was aware of what was happening, if they misled the commission, then the commissioner must resign,” Friedman said.
“Even on the president’s version of it, I think a lot of people will be disappointed if the report has indeed found the national leadership of the police were aware of what was happening, they were directly responsible, they misled the commission … and simply a recommendation to say we should look at her fitness seems way below what we’re entitled to … if indeed she was directly responible.”
The Farlam commission, which probed the 34 deaths, as well as the deaths of 10 people in the week preceding August 16 2012, recommended inquiries into both Phiyega and recently retired North West provincial police commissioner Zukiswa Mbombo.
While finding they had been responsible for ordering the implementation of a defective tactical plan to disarm striking workers, the report also said police management had also misled the commission.
“Police leadership did not inform the Commission that the decision to go ahead with the tactical option, if the strikers did not voluntarily lay down their arms and disperse, was taken at the National Management Forum meeting on 15 August,” Zuma said in his version of the report.
“Instead, they informed the Commission that this decision was taken on the 16th of August, and only after the situation had escalated.”
Political parties welcome report
Government should move with haste to implement the recommendations of the Marikana commission, the country’s political parties said shortly after the release of the findings.
ANC spokesperson Zizi Kodwa said: “The release of this report of a Judicial Commission finally brings to light the truth around this tragic incident. We further trust that it should bring our nation a step closer to healing.
“This tragedy cannot be used to further divide our country, if anything we should seek to unite our people to ensure that such never happens again.”
The ruling party said government should urgently implement the recommendations – which also include that the National Prosecuting Authority probe whether anyone should be criminally prosecuted.
The Democratic Alliance said it expected Zuma to make good on his promise to ensure corrective action was taken.
“Indeed what we would ask for and expect that these investigations into both the national police commissioner and the provincial police commissioner should be done diligently and as speedily as possible,” said DA MP Sej Motau.
Motau said he was not surprised that deputy president Cyril Ramaphosa, who was a director of the Lonmin mines during the unrest and had sent an email to the company calling for “concomitant action” to address the violent strike, was absolved of wrongdoing, adding that Zuma could not escape accountability.
“I’m not surprised, but I know there will be many, many people who are relatively unhappy because there was some expectation that someone will be held accountable …,” said Motau.
“When anything happens in this country … people look at the head of the country for direction and guidance and contrition and that’s the kind of thing we expect and he [Zuma] should take some responsibility.”
Saps takes note of recommendations
The South African Police Service said in a statement it has taken note of the recommendations and findings of the report.
“The National Commissioner of the SAPS, General Riah Phiyega, has indeed received a letter from President Zuma regarding the findings and recommendations of the Marikana Commission of Inquiry. The President has invited General Phiyega to respond by no later than 31 July 2015. General Phiyega will comply with the President’s directive.
“Out of respect for the processes outlined by the president, SAPS management has taken a decision that no public pronouncements about the report, its findings and recommendations will be made.
“What happened in Marikana brought a lot of pain for everyone involved, especially the families, friends and colleagues of the deceased, as well as members of the SAPS and its leadership. It has been a difficult journey and regrettably, that journey continues.
“A heartfelt appeal is made to all SAPS members on the ground and police management to continue serving the nation in line with our Constitution and the oath of office taken. The SAPS belongs to the people of this country and all of us should continue to work hard to ensure that we build trust between the communities and the police,” read the statement. – ANA